Wednesday, September 03, 2008

It's not about Bristol Palin

Obama now has a couple point bounce. Is it a reaction to the convention or to the relentless attacks on Sarah Palin? The race is still a lot closer than I thought it would be at this point, but I think it's also fair to say that the Republicans have some ground to make up.

What we have seen over the past five days is reprehensible and reflects the worst of both the new and old media. The story about Bristol Palin is meaningless. Everyone agrees that it's meaningless, but those with a vested interest in attacking her nevertheless are determined to make it one.

It's not about Bristol, they say, but whether a mother should be running for national office at such a sensitive time.

It's not about Bristol, they say, but in an astonishing catch-22, it's about Governor Palin's judgment in not appreciating how the media and the Democrats would go after her little girl.

It's not about Bristol Palin, they say, but whether John McCain adequately vetted her. Although if you think about it for a moment, the notion that he did not know about this is completely implausible.

It's not about Bristol Palin, they say, but about Sarah Palin's support for abstinence-only education. Of course, no one knows what the schools taught Bristol Palin or whether she didn't understand or have access to birth control (and, no, we have no right to know about that). No one imagines, for a moment, that, if Sarah Palin supported extensive sex-ed, Bristol's pregnancy would be relevant as reflecting on the failure of such programs.

It's not about Bristol Palin, they say, but about the fact that the evangelical Christian Sarah Palin doesn't have a perfect family and is, therefore, a hypocrite. (No, I can't parse that one, either.)

It's not about Bristol Palin, they say, but the fact that it wasn't immediately announced. Shame on the Palins for thinking they could have protected their daughters' privacy.

But, you know, they're right. It's about destroying Sarah Palin. A political scandal often does not have to be about anything real. People don't attend to them closely. All they have to do is get attention. People - particularily the type of people who are undecided - just know there's some type of unpleasantness about this or that.


John Foust said...

A political scandal often does not have to be about anything real. People don't attend to them closely. All they have to do is get attention. People - particularily the type of people who are undecided - just know there's some type of unpleasantness about this or that.

Yeah, I think that's what we were saying about Butler. I think you told us "Let the people decide" and of Gableman, "He'll do fine."

Yes, the new media is charming, isn't it? Everybody thinks the blog-o-sphere is great for breaking stories, but they sure don't like it when it's all about the crazy conspiracy theories against their horse in the race. Obama's a secret Muslim, Obama paid attention during the sermon, Michelle gave a terrorist gang sign, Obama looks funny riding a bike.

At least the mainstream media waits a few days, writers tend to fact-check, editors tend to watch over their shoulders, heavens, they might even have hired fact-checkers. They might even remember the Fairness Doctrine. They might even respect the old guideline to stay away from the minor kids. Now they're nearly forced to cover gossip stories lest they look behind the curve. Good for Obama to come down so strongly against the Bristol rumors. Of course, this doesn't stop righties from suggesting that Obama himself wrote the DailyKos posts.

Blogs? The Bristol conspiracy theory caught fire within hours on a three-day holiday weekend. Take that, old media. You want a marketplace of ideas, even lousy unfair ones? You want no rules, no gentleman's agreements? You got it. Eventually, DailyKos was posting pictures that showed a plumper Sarah, but it only fueled the "fat suit" conspirators. How is the marketplace of ideas supposed to work? What will it take for bloggers to stop reaching for the slime bucket? You have a plan to elevate the discourse? Could buckets of money from unknown sources push ads or blogs that were patently untrue and unfair?

It's not as if DailyKos was the first place to raise an eyebrow at Palin's pregnancy story, right? The Desperate Housewives twist was novel. Like all juicy conspiracy theories, there's a handful of facts, plenty of supposition, and an engaging story to weave. Flimsier conspiracy theories have arisen from less evidence. Where's the birth certificate? Why fly and risk a pregnancy? Why risk an amnio? Why did daughter spend so much time out of school?

I'm still impressed you called it last January, though.

Tom McMahon said...

The difference, of course, is how tightly aligned Kos is to the Obama campaign

Anonymous said...

I'd like to note that Joan "the Forehead" Foost, has crossed the Rubicon.
Foost? You and Illusory tenant should become room-mates. You've both made clear that you are nothing but libtard hacks.
I've said it before, I'll say it again. Foost, you're too stupid to know how deluded you are.
By all means "forehead" continue.
You've made it clear that you have no morals. Continue "forehead".

John Foust said...

By that logic, Tom, Obama's also in bed with O'Reilly.

Even the Wisconsin RNC bloggers appeared to get pretty good seats. If you don't nod to the bloggers, you're not with-it.

AnotherTosaVoter said...

Of course it's about destroying Sarah Palin. You write this as if you're suffering from two fairly serious delusions:

1> That this is something new and that

2> This is something only done by liberals or the MSM.

#1 is clearly absurd and you know it, and #2 is equally as absurd and I'm fairly certain you know that too. Remember, in 2000 John McCain had an illegitimate black child and in 2002 Max Cleland, a disabled veteran, hated the U.S. Military, not to mention all the examples Foust describes.

I agree with you in principle that Bristol Palin ought to be off limits, or at least not that big a story. However, as we all know (but few will admit), the media is not biased left or right but towards scandal. A pregnant teen daughter of a Vice Presidential nominee is scandalous.

The simple, but sad fact, is that nobody can seriously claim to be surprised by this. The feigned indignity is simply a campaign tool the party (and they both do it) can use to rally their partisan hack supporters.

There is one other reason Bristol is a legit issue: When Ms. Palin was chosen, she and the republican base suggested that her experience as a mother was a qualification for the office, an obvious play to the social conservatives. Well, if her being a mother is a qualification then it is fair game to ask how she performed. The right routinely blames parents for the problems of the inner city - with teen pregnancy rightfully playing a major role.

These things being true (would anyone like to claim they are not?), then this is an issue.

There is one other thing. I don't think Rick would engage in it to a shameful degree, but anyone who knows politics knows that if the Democratic nominee had this problem, the right would be going apoplectic claiming it only shows what poor values and morals Democrats have. Anyone who claims otherwise is simply lying.

There you have it.

Anonymous said...

The only comment I have about the Bristol Palin situation is this:

Fair or not, it was going to be news and some of it was going to be ugly. It was naive or stupid to believe that the campaign could control this unless it got it out immediately. I can only assume Gov. Palin's decision to run was a family decision and that they discussed the possibilities. If not, then the least respect shown for the young woman's privacy would have been by her own mother.

I disagree with Gov. Palin on nearly every political issue. But she certainly has a beautiful family and there is nothing to suggest that she and her husband are bad parents. Or that Bristol is a bad girl.

Even "good girls" have been getting pregnant since forever. It's just that they used to either: go away mysteriously, have the baby and come back mysteriously (while the identify of the father usually also remained a mystery); or get married before they showed. It was (probably still is) a time-honored tradition to start counting backward at the birth of a couple's first child.